7 FAM 1300 Appendix E 

passport photographs

(CT:CON-679;   09-20-2016)
(Effective Date: 11-01-2016)
(Office of Origin:  CA/PPT/S/A)

7 FAM 1310 Appendix E  Introduction to Passport Photographs

(CT:CON-622;   01-14-2016)

a. This appendix provides policy for consular officers at U.S. embassies and consulates abroad, and passport specialists at domestic passport agencies and centers, hereinafter referred to as "you" unless otherwise specified, regarding specifications for passport photographs.  It also provides policy regarding commercial photographers.

b. You must determine whether the photographs submitted meet passport requirements.

c.  Photograph Standards:

(1)  22 CFR 51.26 contains the regulatory requirements for photographs for use in U.S. passports, that they be a "good likeness" and "satisfactorily identify the applicant."

(2)  The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has set international specifications for machine-readable passports, including the placement and size of the passport photograph.

(3)  The ICAO standards and Department requirements are intended to ensure that the photograph adequately identifies the passport bearer and thereby prevents difficulties or delays to the bearer during his or her foreign travels.

(4)  While the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act of 2004, Public Law 108-458 and the Real ID Act of 2005, Division B of Public Law 109-13, HR1268 do not deal with U.S. passport photographs, the Department of State digitizes passport photographs, consistent with the REAL ID standards.

(5)  You are referred to the following sources for valuable information on passport photographs.

U.S. Department of State Passport Services:

·         Guidelines For Producing High Quality Photographs For U.S. Travel Documents (available on travel.state.gov)

·         U.S. Passport Photography (available on travel.state.gov)

·         Frequently Asked Questions About Passport Photographs (available on travel.state.gov)

·         ICAO Machine Readable Travel Document 9303

d. Infants pose a particular challenge.  The goal is the best likeness of the child that can reasonably be obtained.

(1)  It is acceptable if the infant's eyes, particularly a newborn's, are partially or completely closed.

(2)  The infant's head may be discreetly supported, e.g., a car seat with a white or off-white blanket behind the child or a parent's hand may be visible in the photograph so long as it does not obscure the face.  Head tilt is acceptable for infants.

(3)  A photograph that includes a parent’s attire as the infant’s background is acceptable if the infant’s facial image is a clear, full frontal view and the parent's attire meets the background standards in 7 FAM 1330 Appendix E (light colored with no shadows or reflections).  A parent’s face cannot be in the photograph of the infant.

e. Because minors do not typically submit identification, at the public counter you should verify with the applying parent(s)/legal guardian(s) that the biographic information matches the attached photograph to avoid accidentally switching photos.

7 FAM 1320 Appendix E  Passport Photograph Requirements

(CT:CON-679;   09-20-2016)

You must request a new photograph if the photograph submitted does not meet the following requirements:

(1)  Color:  The photograph submitted by the applicant must be in color. 

(2)  Good Likeness:  The photograph must be taken within the past six months (ICAO 9303 Section IV, Appendix 11, 1.1), be a good likeness of and satisfactorily identify the applicant at the time of the application (see 22 CFR 51.26).  A photograph showing a change in facial hair or hair color is acceptable if it still is a good likeness of the applicant.

(3)  Size:  The photograph must be 2” x 2” (about 5 cm. x 5 cm.) in overall size.  For example, the following photograph is too small:

Title: Photo that is too small.  - Description: This photo is too small. The facial image must be no less than 1'' (about 2.54 cm.) and no more than 1 3/8" (about 3.5 cm.).

(4)  Image:  The facial image must be a clear, close-up of the head and neck (which may include portions of the shoulders) (ICAO 9303 Section IV, Appendix 11, 1.2).  The facial image size must be no less than 1” (about 2.54 cm.) and no more than 1 3/8” (about 3.5 cm.), measured from the top of the head (not the hairline) to the bottom of the chin.

(a)  A smaller facial image size will make identification of the bearer difficult in addition to possibly revealing staples and borderline requirements from the passport application.  For example, in the following photograph the facial image size is too small:

Title: Photo that specifies how the head size should be.  - Description: Use our free photo cropping tool to properly size your photo; head size should be between 1” and 1.4” (25 and 35 mm)

(b)  A larger facial image size may make it impossible to crop the photograph to the correct size (45 mm. x 35 mm. as per ICAO specifications) for placement in the passport.  For example, in the following photograph the facial image size is too large (also, the applicant is wearing eyeglasses):

Title: Fish-eye distortion  - Description: In the following photograph the facial image has fish-eye distortionTitle: Example of head size - Description: The head size should be between 1” and 1.4” (25 and 35 mm)

(c)  In some cases, a larger facial image size may cause fish-eye distortion.  Fish-eye distortion is when elements in the center of the face are exaggerated in size (especially the nose) and elements on the periphery of the face (especially the ears), are diminished in size or may not be clear or fully visible.  For example, in the following photograph the facial image has fish-eye distortion:

Title: Facial Image is off-center - Description: In the following photograph the facial image is off-center

(5)  Head Position:

(a)  The photograph must be clear with a centered, full frontal view of the applicant’s facial image.  For example, in the following photograph the facial image is off-center:

Title: Photo tip-hpw to center the head - Description: Photo tip: Photo should be 2”x2” (51 x 51 mm) with the head centered horizontally and sized between 1” and 1.4” (25 and 35 mm)

(b)  The head must not be tilted in any direction (ICAO 9303 Section IV, Appendix 11, 1.3).  The ears do not have to be visible.  For example, in the following photographs the applicants' heads are tilted and/or not facing forward:

Title: Photo about head position while facing the camera - Description: The subject should be sitting or standing straight and directly facing the camera

Title: Photo about proper position when facing the camera - Description: Subject should be sitting or standing straight, facing the camera, and looking straight ahead

Title: Photo about subject's head position  - Description: The subject’s head should be level and directly facing the camera

Title: Photo about position when facing the camera.  - Description: The subject’s head and shoulders should be directly facing the camera

(6)  Damage:  The photograph must be undamaged.  Creases, holes, and smudges in the facial area are unacceptable (ICAO 9303 Section IV, Appendix 11, 1.4).  The applicant does not need to sign the photograph, as this often causes creases or smudges.

7 FAM 1330 Appendix E  Quality of Photographs

(CT:CON-679;   09-20-2016)

a. Brightness & Contrast:  Brightness and contrast should accurately reproduce subject’s natural skin tones.  Photographs without proper contrast and color may obscure unique facial features.  For example, in the following photograph the applicant's natural skin tones are not accurately reproduced:

Title: Photo about appropriate skin tones and camera color temperature - Description: Photo must reproduce skin tones accurately and have appropriate contrast; camera color temperature (warm/cool) or printing contrast may need to be corrected

b. Exposure:  Over-exposed or under-exposed photographs are not acceptable.  For example, in the following photographs the images are over-and under-exposed (also, the individual in the first photograph is wearing eyeglasses):

Title: Photo about background ilumination  - Description: Uniform illumination should be used to prevent shadows on face and background; adjust camera exposure

Title: Photo about over/under exposed and supplemental illumination - Description: Photo should not be over-exposed or underexposed;  adjust camera exposure or use supplemental illumination.

c.  Digital/Digitized Photographs: Computer-generated photographs are acceptable as long as the image is sharp and clear.  Images composed of grain-like particles are not acceptable.  Photographs with visible pixels are not acceptable.  For example, in the following photograph the image is grainy:

Title: Photo about printer's resolution requirements.  - Description: Use a higher quality printer ink, paper, or print setting, or increase printer’s resolution (dots per inch (DPI) setting)

d. Background:  The photograph should have a plain light-colored background with no shadows, reflections, or objects in the background (ICAO 9303, Section IV, Appendix 11, 1.10, 1.11, and 2.1).  For example, in the following photographs there are shadows or objects in the background:

Title: No shadow on face and background.  - Description: Uniform illumination should be used to prevent shadows on face and background

Title: Background requirements.  - Description: The background should be uniform, plain and white or off-white, and free of shadows

NOTE:  Medical equipment and supports for the shoulders, head, and neck may be visible in the background for applicants with medical conditions or disabilities.  A medical statement by a medical professional/health practitioner may be requested in questionable cases (IRL 677-33).

e. Photographs must be printed on photo-quality paper.

f.  Digital Manipulation/Retouching:  Digital manipulation and/or retouching of photographs is acceptable if it:

(1)  Improves the overall quality of the photograph, which includes, but is not limited to:

(a)  Removing the red-eye effect;

NOTE:  The red-eye effect is not acceptable in passport photographs (ICAO Document 9303 Appendix 11 to Section IV paragraph 2.2).

(b)  Removing shadows and lines from the background;

(c)  Adjusting the exposure, brightness, or contrast.

(2)  Does not alter the facial features in any way.  Examples of unacceptable digital manipulation/retouching include, but are not limited to:

(a)  Airbrushing or similar techniques that remove or obscure facial lines, wrinkles, and markings such as moles.

(b)  Any manipulation that changes the shape or appearance of the face, such as thinning the face, enhancing the jaw line, changing distances between facial features such as the eyes, or cropping off portions of the face or head.  For example, the following photograph was poorly cropped to remove background features, which removed a portion of the applicant's ear:

Title: Poorly cropped photograph - Description: Photo should be cropped correctly so as not to remove part of the applicant's body. In this case, his ear.

g. Passport Cards: Brightness, contrast, image resolution, and proper exposure are particularly important for passport card photographs.

7 FAM 1340 Appendix E  Attire

(CT:CON-679;   09-20-2016)

(Effective Date: 11-01-2016)

 

a. Uniforms:

(1)  Regular Passports and Passport Cards: Photographs in which the applicant is wearing a uniform of one of the U.S. Uniformed Services (10 U.S.C. 101(a)(5)) or military/law enforcement-style clothing (which usually includes camouflage clothing) are not acceptable.  However, reasonable exceptions may be made for photographs taken in the uniform of a civilian organization when it will aid in identification (e.g., a commercial airline pilot who will be traveling abroad in uniform).

(2)  Special Issuance (official, diplomatic, or no-fee regular) Passports:  Although the Department has no objection, the U.S. Uniformed Services' regulations and/or policies do not permit uniforms in special issuance passports.

b. Religious Attire: Religious attire that does not obscure any part of the face or head is acceptable in passport photographs.

c.  Hats or Other Head Coverings:

(1)  Hats or other head coverings are acceptable if they do not obscure any part of the face, hairline, or the composition of the photograph (the hat or head covering lies flat against the head and only covers the hair), e.g., a very thin headband.

(2)  Hats or other head coverings, such as wide headbands, scarves, turbans, large skullcaps, etc., which do not lie flat on the head and/or mostly or completely obscure the hairline but the face is visible from the forehead to the chin and forward of the ears (ICAO 9303, Section IV, 6.1.9), are acceptable in passport photographs if:

(a)  The applicant can establish that the hat or head covering is part of recognized, traditional religious attire which is customarily or required to be worn continuously when in public.  A signed statement from the applicant regarding the religious nature, the customary practice, and/or requirement of continuous public use of the hat or head covering should be required in questionable cases, e.g., the applicant's submitted documentation (ID or citizenship evidence, if applicable) does not depict the applicant in a religious hat or head covering, or the covering does not appear to be recognized as traditional religious attire (e.g., baseball caps and other hats or head covering that serve a different purpose).

NOTE:  If the applicant submits a seemingly spurious statement regarding the religious nature of a hat or head covering, scan and e-mail the passport application and statement to Passport Service's Office of Legal Affairs and Law Enforcement Liaison (CA/PPT/S/L) (domestic) or Overseas Citizen Service Office of Legal Affairs (CA/OCS/L) (overseas) for a determination.

(b)  The hat or head covering is worn for medical reasons, including hair loss as a result of medical treatment.  A medical statement signed by a medical professional/health practitioner may be required in questionable cases.

(3)  Hats or other head coverings that partially or completely obscure the face are not acceptable.  For example, in the following photographs the applicants' hats or head coverings obscure the face (the chin and jaw line in the following photographs):

Title: Entire face has to be visible - Description: Attire should be adjusted so that the entire face is visible

Title: Entire face has to be visible.  - Description: Head coverings worn for religious purposes must be adjusted so that the entire face is visible

d. Bandages/Medical equipment:  If bandages or medical equipment, such as medical ventilator tubing and eye patches, obscure the face, a medical statement signed by a medical professional/health practitioner must be requested.

e. Eyeglasses/Contact Lenses:

(1)  Eyeglasses are not acceptable unless they cannot be removed for medical reasons, e.g., the applicant has recently had ocular surgery and the eyeglasses are necessary to protect the applicant’s eyes.  A medical statement signed by a medical professional/health practitioner must be requested in these rare, urgent circumstances.  If the eyeglasses are accepted for medical reasons:

 

(a)  The frames of the eyeglasses must not cover the eye(s) (ICAO 9303, Section IV, Appendix 11, 1.8);

.

(b)  There must not be glare on eyeglasses that obscures the eye(s);

(c)  There must not be shadows or refraction from the eyeglasses that obscures the eye(s).

(2)  Clear contact lenses are acceptable.  Other types of contact lenses, including tinted and novelty contact lenses, that do not obscure the eye, i.e., that do not make the iris appear larger or smaller, are acceptable if normally and consistently worn.

NOTE:  Even if cosmetic contact lenses are normally and consistently worn, the natural eye color is requested on Form DS-11, Form DS-82, and Form DS-5504.

f.  Accessories (Hearing Aids, Wigs, Facial Ornamentation, etc.):  If a hearing device, wig, facial ornamentation (i.e., facial piercing jewelry), or similar article is normally and consistently worn and does not obscure the face, it may be worn when the photograph is taken (ICAO 9303, Section IV, Appendix 11, 1.9).

g. One-time facial decorations, e.g., a team logo applied at a sporting event, are not acceptable.

NOTE:  As tattoos and body modifications are permanently applied, and also aid in identification, there is no requirement that tattoos or body modifications be covered with either clothing or makeup.

h. There must be no hair obscuring the eyes (ICAO 9303, Section IV, Appendix 11, 1.7).  For example, in the following photograph the applicant's hair obscures her eyes:

Title: Entire face has to be visible - Description: Hair should be adjusted so that the entire face is visible

i.  Other:  Headphones, “blue tooth,” or other similar devices must not be worn in passport photographs.

j.  Except as detailed above, you may request a signed statement from the applicant in any questionable cases.  An example of a questionable case is one in which the attire does not appear in the identification submitted with the application.

7 FAM 1350 Appendix E  Facial Expression

(CT:CON-622;   01-14-2016)

a. The applicant’s expression should be natural.  Normal, unexaggerated smiles are acceptable, but unusual expressions and squinting are not (ICAO 9303, Section IV, Appendix 11, 1.5).

b. Both of the applicant’s eyes must be visible and open in the photograph.  If this is not possible, a medical statement signed by a medical professional/health practitioner may be requested in questionable cases.

7 FAM 1360 Appendix E  Religious Objections to Photograph Requirements

(CT:CON-622;   01-14-2016)

a. Objections to Being Photographed:  An ICAO standard for passport photographs requires that every passport contain a full-face photograph to identify the bearer.  The United States complies with this standard.  You may not waive this requirement.

b. Objections to Full-Face Photographs:

(1)  You may receive requests to have passports issued with photographs that show faces completely or partially (only eye area visible) covered.  However, 22 CFR 51.26 requires that the photograph be a good likeness of the applicant, and a photograph with a covered face does not meet this requirement. 

(2)  An applicant may have no objection to being photographed, but may request that only persons of the same sex have access to the photo.  Treat the request as any other request for special handling.  You should respectfully tell the applicant only that you will try to comply with the request to the extent feasible.

(3)  The Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) will not write a letter stating that only officials of one sex may view the passport.  Passport agencies/centers may direct their questions to the Office of Adjudication at AskPPTAdjudication@state.gov.  U.S. embassies and consulates abroad may direct their questions to the Office of Legal Affairs (CA/OCS/L) at Ask-OCS-L@state.gov.

7 FAM 1370 Appendix E  Commercial Photographers

(CT:CON-622;   01-14-2016)

It is the policy of the Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) not to recommend the services of a specific commercial photographer.  Passport agencies and posts abroad must avoid giving the impression that certain photographers are preferred or certified in some way to provide acceptable photographs.  You may, however, maintain lists of conveniently located commercial photographers to provide to applicants when needed in urgent/emergency circumstances.  Refer routine inquiries to the telephone directory or online directory listings of commercial photographers.  To assist commercial photographers concerning the acceptability of photographs, agencies may refer commercial photographs to the Photographer's Guide on the Bureau of Consular Affairs webpage (travel.state.gov) or inform photographers of the requirements.

7 FAM 1380 Appendix E  Procedures

(CT:CON-622;   01-14-2016)

a. Applications received without photographs:

(1)  Processing and communications personnel at passport agencies/centers or Consular Section personnel should refer applications without photographs to their supervisor for guidance on processing passport applications received without photographs.

(2)  You must not accept a Form DS-11, DS-82, or DS-5504 received without a photograph at the public counter.

(3)  Passport specialists must suspend a Form DS-11 received without a photograph from an acceptance facility.  The applicant must re-execute the Form DS-11 (see IRL 975-04).

(4)  Passport specialists must suspend a Form DS-82 or Form DS-5504 received without a photograph (see IRL 1000-05 and IRL 1018-14).

b. You must examine photographs to make sure they meet the requirements listed in this appendix.

c.  You must suspend applications with photographs that do not meet the requirements.  Passport agencies/centers will send an appropriate Information Request Letter (IRL).

(1)  When the applicant submits an acceptable photograph in response to the IRL, passport agency/center processing or communications personnel must:

(a)  Remove the unacceptable photograph from the passport application;

(b)  Attach the acceptable photograph to the passport application; and

(c)  Attach the unacceptable photograph to the IRL returned by the applicant (if the applicant does not return the IRL, attach the photograph to the file copy of the IRL).  The passport specialist will then retain this IRL with the file (see 7 FAM 1347, "Assembly of the Application and Attachments").

(2)  If the applicant does not take any action within 90 days, the application must be denied without further action.  Neither the passport execution fee nor passport application fee will be refunded.  U.S. embassies and consulates abroad should take similar action.

d. Emergency Cases:  In an emergency, you may accept photographs that do not meet all of the requirements outlined in this appendix.  However, such photographs must still be a clear and current representation of the applicant’s image. 

(1)  Passport Agencies and Centers:  In emergency circumstances, limit the validity of the passport to one year, using endorsement 46 (see 7 FAM 1300 Appendix B).

(2)  Overseas Posts:  Limit the validity of the passport to 1 year, using endorsement 109 (see 7 FAM 1300 Appendix B).

e. Annotate the application to indicate why the photograph was accepted and the passport was limited in validity.  Advise the applicant that the passport may be replaced with a fully valid passport without charge if an acceptable photograph is presented within a year from the issuance date of the passport.

f.  Passports Issued by U.S. Embassies and Consulates During a Crisis Abroad:  During a crisis abroad, when posts are issuing emergency passports to assist citizens with evacuation, it is not unusual to find that you must accept photographs that do not meet all of the criteria outlined in this appendix.  This is acceptable due to the emergency.  As noted above, the passport should be limited in validity.

CRISIS CONTINGENCY PLANS:

Consular Sections are advised to make contingency plans where feasible to have equipment, camera, photograph paper, printer, etc. for use during a crisis.  The U.S. embassies in Bangkok and Colombo found this very useful in the wake of the 2005 South Asia Tsunami.  (See 7 FAM 1800 Consular Crisis Management).

7 FAM 1390 Appendix E  unassigned